Just as 3PO and R2 were inspired by slapstick comedy duos like Laurel & Hardy and Abbot & Costello, Jar Jar was inspired by slapstick comedy solo performers like Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton and even Jerry Lewis. There’s also precedent in Lucas’ films. Jar Jar’s voice is very similar to a character (I don’t remember the name) in Labyrinth. Conceptually and in terms of design, I like Jar Jar a lot. I also like his character as an innocent to accompany Anakin on his journey — like Scarecrow in Wizard of Oz. I will admit, however, that what opened the door to criticism was execution. Comedy is very difficult thing to pull off — far harder than most casual moviegoers know. Timing, gestures, editing all play a role. I think if Jar Jar’s comedy simply had better timing, much of the criticism would’ve gone away. When comedy doesn’t work, audiences get hostile REALLY fast and they are unforgiving. Go watch a stand-up comedian who is bombing and you can literally feel the hostility rise in the room. I believe what helped TFA succeed, despite it’s massive flaws in storytelling and originality, was that the comedy worked. Little moments, like Finn leading Poe into the hanger bay saying, “Stay calm, stay calm,” Poe responding, “I am calm,” and Finn saying, “I was talking to myself.” That’s legitimately funny and charming. Had Jar Jar had a few more of those type of moments, I don’t think anyone would’ve complained about his “character” or his “annoying voice.” Those are just grasping explanations for something far more esoteric and basic: he didn’t make people laugh. That said, kids are more forgiving and visually oriented. So for them, he’s goofy and that’s enough. Honestly, I think once Not-Lucasfilm and Disney gain more courage (not that I’ve seen any evidence so far), I’d like to see them revisit the character in one of the new films. Give the character some closure, but let Disney animators and storytellers give him some comedy that works. In the long run, that could help settle the anti-PT fuming and end some of the fan antagonism. Initially there would be an outcry. “God Lord, they’re bring Jar Jar back?!?!” But if the comedy works, the outcry would end immediately. I think a good way to test the idea is in Rebels. Have Dave Filoni and crew work up a heroic storyline and bring in a couple veteran Disney experts (or better, bring in some Pixar people) to nail the comedy. It would be Disney’s opportunity to REALLY heal the rift in Star Wars fandom, rather than simply kowtowing to hateboy demands.
Like all art, comedy is subjective. Kids like funny voices and slapstick. Slapstick also translates well internationally, especially to audiences that love physical comedy. It’s harder to get audiences to understand witty patter if it doesn’t translate well to another language. I saw nothing wrong with the execution. The problem was the haters were offended at the very idea of a character aimed at children. They hated the Ewoks for the same reason. That he was awkward and uncool also played into the nerds’ own insecurities. What you’re talking about is really changing Jar Jar into something he’s not to suit YOUR sensibilities and make him cool to all of the “right” people. Phooey to that.
Jar Jar was a pretty good sidekick, with Qui-gon & young Ani respectively, not to mention the great scene with Padme in coruscant. His wee sayings and stuff are fun enough. The character is at his most slap-stick in the clunky end battle sequence where the action exposes the cgi technology of the times limitations. The slapstick in the sub was fine to me, & the whoopie snack as well. It was the end bit that probably colored the impression for many people. with some of the later Boss Nass stuff along with that GL was a target and he perhaps unwisely or mis-calculated in putting Jar Jar’s slapstick abit too much to the forefront or in people’s face. I liked the way Jar Jar dived into the swamp and swim journey to otah gunga, sort of played up abit on the more froggy side of the Gungans & perhaps would have worked better if that element of things had been balanced abit better with his slap stick, & who the Gungans were in general.
Absolutely fine in AoTCs and his full senate speech would have been great to have in. I wonder if Jar Jar was initially intended as the prequels chewy, & to be more of a sidekick to Anakin & Obi.